Washington, D.C. – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01), and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY-21) hosted a discussion on the problems facing everyday Americans today: fentanyl at the border, crime on our streets, inflated costs of food and gas, and disrupted education.
Joining them were House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (OH-04), House Select Committee on the Economy Ranking Member Bryan Steil (WI-01), Rep. Kevin Hern (OK-01), Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Rep. Tony Gonzales (TX-23), and Rep. Julia Letlow (LA-05).
Additional participants included Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council; Kristy Dyroff, an Advocate for victims of the opioid crisis and their families; Sheriff Richard Jones of Butler County, Ohio; Eric Flannery, the Co-Owner of The Big Board; Addison George, a high school student in Naperville, Illinois; Alyssa Phelps, a Navy Veteran and homeschool mom to her two children; Patrice Onwuka, the Director of the Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity; and Joe Shamess, the Co-Founder and Owner of Flags of Valor.
Here are the takeaways from their discussion.
Leader McCarthy on the importance of keeping our streets safe: “In Los Angeles, they elected a [District Attorney] that is going to pick and choose what law they want to uphold. They’re now recalling him based upon those actions. It doesn’t matter what spectrum you [come from] because every American wants to feel safe. I promise you this: we won’t defund the police, we’ll add to it.”
Whip Scalise on the Biden administration’s misguided energy policies: “President Biden, by shutting American energy down, has made our country more dependent on Russia. He was actually begging Russia to produce more oil. The sad thing is, Putin did. Today, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom combined are sending $700 million to Russia to buy their oil everyday.”
Chairwoman Stefanik on the importance of school choice: “We believe in school choice. We are seeing households and families be left behind… so when we talk about families and students that are falling through the cracks, my colleagues are exactly right, it’s the people who are already at a disadvantage. We need to make sure that your educational opportunity that’s not dictated by your zip code.”
Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers on fentanyl: “We know where it’s coming from. We know it’s been coming from China, the chemicals through Mexico, then across the Southern Border… we need to secure the border. It’s pretty fundamental.”
Ranking Member Jordan on Democrats’ open border policies: “This is all driven by bad policy. The reason we are where we are is because when you defund the police, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get more crime… look at the border, when you allow two million people to come into the country, you’re going to get bad outcomes.”
Ranking Member Steil on the problems America’s seniors and low-income Americans are facing: “We [have to] get prices under control. What you’re seeing is impacting moms and dads all across the country. Inflation is a tax on everyone, but it really clobbers low-income workers and fixed-income seniors… Everything they’re doing, the costs are going up.”
Rep. Hern on the out-of-control government bureaucracy: “The thing that’s happened with our mayors we’ve seen across the country and the impact that they’ve had on forcing mask mandates, and what they’ve done to declare someone an essential worker or an essential business regardless of how you started that business, or where you started that business, or how long it’s been in you family you were shut down overnight… We need a resurrection of the importance of small business in America.”
Rep. Miller-Meeks on Iowa’s decision to keep schools open and without a mask mandate: “What does the science tell us for the safety of children? Almost no transmission especially in elementary schools. Kids don’t get sick even up to high school, so what’s the effect on children of masking, social distancing, and locking down schools? There’s no upside, it’s all downside.”
Rep. Gonzales on policies that can be taken to secure the border: “We’re going to hold [Secretary Mayorkas] accountable because it’s his organization that is leading on [the border], we can do that on day one… you got to have boots on the ground, you got to have somebody who is on the ground and doing the work.”
Rep. Letlow on education becoming one of the biggest issues in American politics: “Parents need a voice, they absolutely need a voice. We saw for the first time in the Virginia governor’s race that parents are fed up. They were tired of not making their voice heard.”
Brandon Judd on the mistakes that the Biden administration has made on the border: “This is a man-made crisis. It’s simply because this administration took away all the policies that President Trump implemented that were so beneficial to border security. And because of that, we’re seeing something that is completely and totally out of control.”
Kristy Dyroff on the impact that fentanyl has had on American families: “We’ve had a 30% increase in Fentanyl deaths in the last year… this past year, over 100,000 Americans will die of an opioid overdose. That’s 1 every 11 minutes.”
Sheriff Richard Jones on the problems law enforcement faces: “We can’t even hire [officers], they won’t even take the test, can you blame them… We’re going to have less patrols because we can’t afford gas and fuel.”
Eric Flannery on the callous decision-making being made by city governments: “Under the guise of an emergency order, we were not given a right to appeal. That’s not how our government of the people, for the people, and by the people is supposed to work.”
Addison George on the frustrations of disruptive learning: “I had to do remote school for over a year where I was sitting in my room, alone, at my desk staring at a computer screen where I was not retaining any information…. I had everything taken away from me that made high school feel like high school.”
Alyssa Phelps on why so many parents are choosing to homeschool: “When virtual learning was finally presented to us, it was difficult to follow, disruptive, lacked any substantial content, and therefore was inadequate to meet my children’s needs. The school’s lack of initiative and inconsistency were the driving force behind our decision to start homeschooling our kids”
Patrice Onwuka on the impact that inflation has had on the American people.: “As a mom of three, I have two toddlers. I buy a lot of milk. Over the past year, like many families, I have [been] spending at least a dollar or more per gallon. The rising prices are a struggle when you consider that inflation is up 7.5%. Real wages are down 2.4%. That means your purchasing power is lower than before.”
Joe Shamess on the struggles of a small-business owner: “You’re constantly bouncing between I can’t find the staff I need, or you’re stealing staff from someone else so it’s a net-zero win for the community. You can’t get the supplies you need or you’re dealing with runaway inflation, so you’re bouncing between each of those.”